Microsoft has discontinued the Kin phones line, just six weeks after it launched the devices. The company blamed low sales numbers, and was shy to say how many it sold exactly. But Kin's failure comes as no surprise, with a troubled Microsoft playing catch-up in the mobile world.
The Kin phones were too pricey from the beginning. They weren't exactly a smartphone, but they were priced as one. The Kin One cost $130, and the Kin Two $150 with a two-year Verizon contract (before a mail-in rebate). Verizon dramatically slashed the Kind prices earlier this week by $100, with the Kin Two at a mere $50 and Kin One at $30.
But Verizon's price cut was not enough. Microsoft targeted the Kin at teenagers, as an always-connected device to their social life on Twitter and Facebook. This Internet connectivity however, comes at a cost, and Verizon's data and voice charges for the Kin were up to $70 per month, an amount most fast-food counter-working teenagers would struggle to afford for their phone alone.
Microsoft and Verizon didn't want to give any indication as to how many Kins they sold in the first six weeks of availability, so this left plenty of room for speculation. A rumor from Business Insider said that Microsoft sold only 500 Kins, while CNet's source is much more generous, placing the figure "south of 10,000". Nevertheless, it certainly sounds like a low number either way.
Albeit quite cool for a teenager nowadays, the Kind phones arrived perhaps a year too late. An interesting revelation in this area came from Engadget's Joshua Topolsky, who claims the device should have made it to the market 18 months ago. The Kins were delayed, as Microsoft allegedly wanted the OS on the phones to run on Windows, instead of the Sidekick platform, which Microsoft acquired with Danger in 2008.
Plus, the Kin OS had no apps or maps, and paired with a inadequate price tag for its target audience, the Microsoft Kin was pretty much dead on arrival. Why would a teenager want Microsoft's hipster expensive phone, when they can get for $99 an iPhone 3GS with iOS 4 and joint the iParty? Alternatively, Palm's Pre and Pixi Plus phones carry similar pricing to the Kins, and have more software features - still a better deal than the Kin.
Microsoft sad it will continue to sell the Kin though Verizon (it probably has plenty of the initial stock left over), but the company said that it is now exclusively focusing on the Windows Phone 7 operating system, arriving later this year. Let's hope Microsoft has better luck with that one.
This story, "Why Microsoft's Kin Phones Were Destined To Fail" was originally published by PCWorld.